October 99 Commentary

October Commentary

This is just a sampling of the mail received from last month's readers.

I think women need to wake up and smell the coffee. Feminism is just a word, it's the person that gives the word it's meaning and right now that meaning is jibberish. Hey I think there's nothing wrong with the woman who see herself as a feminist but she must respect others and their views. Same can be said for the non-feminists out in the world. I think we can share this planet peacefully.Tracey

Hi! Checked out your website after reading an article in the Houston Chronicle. A couple of comments and questions. The article said that part of your definition of a Leather Spinster is an upper age cutoff of 55. If accurate, why? I am 57 and counting, never married, heterosexual, not in a relationship, and as content as most people I know. And why choose the term "asexual"? If you are describing what is a valid, but previously unrecognized, lifestyle choice, then you need to coin a new term...one without the negative overtones of "asexual." My medical dictionary (I am a freelance medical writer) defines asexual as "1) having no evident sex or sex organs; sexless. 2) Relating to, produced by, or involving reproduction that occurs without the union of male and female gametes, as in binary fission or budding. 3) Lacking interest in or desire for sex." Is this really the best description of a Leather Spinster? You can argue that this is not your intent in using the term. However, since this IS the meaning of the term, you need to find one that is accurately descriptive. If this is the meaning you intended, maybe the age limit doesn't matter...I wouldn't qualify as a Leather Spinster on the grounds of not being asexual...Mary Carole McMann

I'm so glad I found this site what a relief. I've been searching the net for any evidence of single happiness for two years and I'm so pleased with this site.Nina

Wedded to Self reminded me of my friend giving a "coming out" party for herself. She was coming out as a lifetime spinster. I thought she was a fruitcake for giving herself a party but those that marry themselves are really "strange".Cheryl

Wedded to Self made me laugh but a few days later it made sense to me. Why should a woman be robbed of the opportunity to publically acknowledge her chosen life?Liza

I don't get it, why would a woman marry herself, everyone she knows know she's happy and single why the ceremony?Niccels

Before The Donahue Show went off the air they featured a woman who married herself did you speak with her?Rachel

A few co-workers and myself scan the internet on our lunch breaks and we enjoy reading articles on the Leather Spinsters' site. That article on women marrying themselves have one of my co-workers talking about tying the know with herself. Thanks for giving single women an area to express their views.Bea

First I would like to say I'm not making fun of anyone but I think the article on women marrying themselves deserve a second look. More probbing questions should be directed to Marsha because she sounded as if she were motivated by something other than wanting to celebrate being unmarried. I truly believe she was trying to get even with her mother and aunts. Just my thoughts. Nanci

A simple explanation to her aunt would've took care of the pestering.Phylis

A person feel like they're discovering a world they didn't know existed when they visit the ezine.

Great site!Terrianne

The only reason I come back to read your ezine each month is for the unusual topics and interviews. Keep up the good work!Lisa

In a previous version of this site you had a message asking for suggestions for speakers on "Celibacy" at your conference. It may be too late for this year, but for next year, may I suggest the following 2 British writers on celibacy ?

Liz Hodgkinson who wrote "Sex is not compulsory; giving up sex for greater happiness and health", published in 1988 ( but she's still active ) by Columbus Books, who are no longer to be found, they were probably an "imprint" of a larger group. I could probably trace her if you are interested. She later wrote a book called "Happy to be single".

Sally Cline who wrote "Women, celibacy and passion" published about 1993 by Deutsch ( Fax 0171 316 4499 ). She is a lecturer at Cambridge University. These two have rather different approaches, and they may have changed their views over the years, as most of us do. And there is also Germaine Greer, one of the most famous of feminists on this side of the water, who is celibate now because men disgust her and lesbianism doesn't work for her, so she's stuck! I doubt whether she would agree to speak, and would you want her to if that's her view? But it's your choice. She is also a lecturer at Cambridge University.

I was struck to read that 70% of your membership have at least one child. That can hardly be much below the average for American women as a whole. I see why you want to include them; they are SINGLE WOMEN, but such women would hardly be called "spinsters" in British terms, they would be called "divorcees". ( And you ought to know that in Britain "leather" carries unpleasant overtones of beatings and sado-masochism. )

I can think of 2 theories to explain this: 1) These women, conciously or unconciously married to have children, and once this self-propelled sperm injector had done his bit and kept the family going while the children were small, he can be kicked out. Such women certainly exist. There was a programme on British TV which talked to some women who were quite open about it of course if you think of any wierd kind of person, one-legged Eskimo lesbians, Jews who admire Hitler, we can be sure that at least one exists somewhere and TV researchers can usually find one for a show. The important question is "how many many there are?" I think it is probably quite a lot, divorce when the children are just starting school is very common. One of your correspondents says she was celibate since her daughter was conceived. I am suspicious about that. Princess Diana said before she died that she knew on her wedding day that Prince Charles did not love her, she wanted to be queen more than she wanted to be loved. Do you smell a personal concern? You're right!

People who have done shameful things are unwilling to admit it even to themselves, and even less willing to admit it to others - but the chance of appearing on TV cuts through it! You link having children to having sex, but the two are logically and emotionally separate - though practically linked! We have all heard of couples who have decided ( quite within their rights ) to have no children, the opposite surely also exists, women who want children but not a man.

2) Celibacy is an orientation like gay or straight. I think this is fairly plausible. There are plenty of gays who can perform well enough with the opposite sex to deceive everybody but themselves, but they tire of the pretence and give up what they know is wrong for them. It is one of the tradgedies of life, but nobody is to blame. Might the same be true of celibate women? I see that some might not like this view, to them it might seem that they have made a painful but right choice to choose something better and higher as against something animal and lower and they would think their choice had been degraded to view it as biologically determined. Or maybe not.

Probably some fall into one category and some into the other. It worries me to see the passion that some of your correspondents have to destroy their sexuality, to burn what they cannot usefully use. Celibacy can be reversed, but it seems like a bodily mutilation, cutting off an ear or a leg. Sexuality is part of the whole person.

What is the reason for wanting to be celibate? Some may have no or little urge, there's nothing more you can say about that. But I doubt if more than 10% of your membership are virgin. What can you say of those who do have urge, but have decided to turn against it? They tend to justify their celibacy by saying things like "sex causes hassles, has a price too high to be worth it" leaving the unspoken but obvious statement "sex was nice but.....". Most divorcees would try for another man. Why not your members? Do they think that all men ( or at least all the men they can attract ) are bad? Is there actually a pleasure ( as opposed to avoiding what comes with sex ) in being celibate? What is it? And if you did once like sex how do you make yourself not like it? Just let it fade away? More active measures? - exactly what?

Of course some people are single for all too sadly obvious good reasons, they can't handle money or liquor, are constantly bad-mouthing others ( more often women ) or have obsessive hobbies that are hardly compatible with marriage ( more often men ), but most who can hardly have lacked offers. They have made a choice, and I firmly believe you are right to say that single celibacy is a life-choice that ought to be respected, though I am glad to see that you do not condemn marriage for all women. Choices do have to be made, and the choices we would like to choose from are not always available, and I do see that it can be right to decide that a certain thing ( marriage, children, the boss's job ) are not going to come your way, accept it, and set your mind on other things. I have been careful never to put any pressure to marry on my daughters, they are not old enough yet for it to become a burning issue, but I remember the joy I had in having them, and I would like them to have the same. I look at my elder daughter and her unsatisfactory on-off boyfriend and like any responsible father would do, I worry. But there's nothing I can do. That's what I have to accept.

I know 3 career-spinsters, I now think one of them is rather a nasty piece of work ( she is one of these single women who try to show that they are women of the world by cracking dirtier jokes than any married person would, but they just show up their ignorance and innocence ), to my embarassment I did once think of courting her. A near miss!

I have never heard of the film "Waiting to exhale" in Britain; the comments on it make me think we live in very different countries. Yuncie ( July Newsletter ) said "I've never married and I don't feel guilty about not getting married. Last year I stopped dating because I was tired of the confusion caused by men thinking I wanted a serious relationship. When I was buying into that I couldn't find one man interested in a commitment, now, I'm overrun with offers, I can't figure that one out. Could it be that men only want to commit to a woman that dont need them as much as they need her? Whatever the case I'm turning them away and they keep coming. Have you exhaled? It's my choice not date so you're not going to find me waiting to exhale because I already did!

She seems to find this perverse but Nanci ( May newsletter ) got it right when she said "Women just don't look at their situations objectively and see what the guys actually see. I can tell you they see desperation and those that are insecure themselves will take advantage of all the desperate women they should come across in their lifetime.

When a man see a woman who is interested in him only because he IS a man, any man, of course he shies away. That's exactly how these women behave with men who were interested in them only because they ARE women. They haven't the imagination ( or empathy - that's why they're spinsters ? ) to see the mirror image. It looks like setting the other person up for exploitation - and it might indeed turn out that way, we have all heard of some grim cases. But when men meet a woman who is happy in herself and is not excessively "needy" ( that famous feminist put-down of men ! ), she's a more attractive person.

I must say that reading American writing makes it seem that women are put under much greater pressure by their families to conform than in Britian. But this may be simply self-selection bias; those who have something to complain of, complain and are heard, and those who have nothing to complain, do not complain and are not heard. But the two families may have lived next door, we should beware of thinking society is more uniform than it is.

I am unwillingly celibate at the moment, as so often in my life, a firm statement one way has provoked me into thinking it through and see that it is not the right choice for ME. Michael

Marrying yourself, how sacreligious can you get!Brenda